Chesapeake Employers Insurance Co. – HQ
The Chesapeake Employers Insurance Headquarters renovation project fundamentally began as a major fire and water damage restoration effort, and quickly transitioned into an opportunity to retrofit two entire floors (40,000 affected square feet) of their facility to meet the demands of the modern office culture. After a brief RFQ process, Chesapeake decided to engage CAM as a repeat client of theirs over the past 15 years. The heart of this project involved the construction of a new central break area, which functions more as a community gathering space with a variety of different seating options, food service offerings, and basic culinary equipment to assist employees who bring their own lunch. The genesis behind this space was to provide a welcoming common area amenity that employees could either utilize individually, with one another, or even with external facing clients. The architect’s goal was to make this a visually distinctive space that will impress upon every visitor and staff member who walks off the elevator into level one of the office building.
The linchpin of their concept called for replacing an old drop ceiling with multiple acoustical clouds, and leaving the rest of the structural slab exposed above. Executing this look required an extensive amount of clean-up within the former plenum, to demo extraneous low voltage wiring, bundle up active IT/data wiring within black corrugated piping, and consolidate electrical conduit runs into specific areas. CAM then sprayed the entire above ceiling area black to help any remaining MEP systems disappear from view, which helps maintain the occupant’s focus on the space in front of them.
Other elements of this job included the construction of an all-new fitness center with connected ADA restrooms/locker rooms, a massive new training room with a folding partition, a variety of small conference rooms designed for brainstorming sessions and zoom calls, and completely new finishes and systems furniture layout within the open areas on either side of the core of levels one and two. On level one, the project also involved shifting many of the building’s main support functions into more interior portions of the floorplate without natural light, etc; as a result, CAM helped create a new mail distribution room, IT support areas, copy/print rooms, and storage rooms.
Some of the most challenging facets of this project pertained to the limited working hours, given the continuously occupied nature of this facility during construction. Certain trades preferred to work off-hours to avoid disruptions to Chesapeake’s employees, and CAM facilitated the accommodation by being physically present on the jobsite for numerous evenings, weekends, and early morning meetings. CAM’s PM also wore the hat of superintendent, spending half of his day working out of the on-site office of Chesapeake’s facility manager, which facilitated immediate communication with the owner, yielded swift answers to questions, and helped approve design tweaks when beneficial to the overall project intent or schedule. CAM ensured that noise would be kept to a minimum during normal business hours, and that life safety systems were sustained over the course of the job. One tricky subtlety of the project involved preserving a large section of the existing ceiling grid on one of the floors, which forced trades to employ thoughtful integration strategies at the connection points and exercise caution for all relocation work above. Lastly, CAM was able to save the owner tens of thousands of dollars by salvaging and re-installing nearly all of the prior doors, frames, and hardware that had been removed and stored on-site during the demolition phase.
Montebello Elementary/Middle School
The Montebello Elementary/Middle School project encompassed a 74,000 sf systemic renovation and complete interior gut of a historic school property, restoring the two existing buildings back to shell condition and then constructing all new improvements throughout. There was both a historic restoration component on the exterior of the existing structures, as well as a compatible newly constructed “cafeterorium” wing (20,000 sf) which had to be nestled within this confined site and communicate seamlessly between multiple distinct floor elevations, with the help of a brand new ADA stair tower.
One of the main goals of the project was to undo a series of inconsistent, incompatible renovation efforts over the decades, while highlighting the original architectural features of the building through a variety of restoration and reconstruction efforts:
- new architectural shingled roofs
- rounded architectural bronze gutter and downspout system to match the historic copper material salvaged on the field house
- basketweave masonry restoration and cleaning of the architectural stone, steps, columns, balustrade, needlepointing, and school name engraving
- replacement of over 300 existing windows with aluminum clad window systems to replicate the style and light pattern of the remaining historic windows
- capture traditional stone archways and architectural features at the entry canopy through the second floor windows of breakout areas as well as a classroom and “wholeness” room
- gym renovation repurposed existing stage façade, brought out the elegance of the arched windows, and dropped a drywall ceiling beneath the formerly exposed girder trusses to conceal new HVAC and improve acoustics for the space’s theatrical/assembly functions.
- Renovated internal stairwell in the rear, with sweeping views overlooking Lake Montebello
- Expansive city views out of collaborative learning areas as well as classrooms, overlooking 33rd street toward City College, the old Memorial Stadium site, and row homes rising up the hillside towards the horizon
This job contained a few unique features for a PreK-8th school, such as a locker room, hybrid library-media center with bulkhead accent lighting, and a video production studio with greenscreen, display mounting racks, and hookups for an iMac editing booth. One core component of this job was the construction of a $2 million state of the art kitchen with large walk-in refrigerator-freezer boxes, steam/convection ovens, stovetop, boiling hot water vats, warmers, automatic dishwashing equipment, and two individual serving lines to serve the brand new cafeteria (which doubles as a multipurpose room). Tall ceilings, architectural accent lighting, acoustical panels, and an extensive sound system make this space suitable for performances, community meetings, and other events. Finally, CAM executed the construction of a very difficult outdoor learning area between the new and historic buildings, installing planter beds, wide concrete seating, and staircases for students to congregate and classes to be held outdoors in good weather. We had to contend with a ten-foot elevation change spanning a distance of less than twenty feet within this newly formed courtyard.
By no means was this an easy undertaking for the A&E team or CAM, as this site presented a number of inherent obstacles given existing conditions. Challenging features included steep slopes (50’ drop from Harford Road to Curran Drive), outdoor learning areas and playgrounds wedged between structures, inserting state-of-the art mechanical equipment within restricted spaces (former boiler rooms), and a bulkhead pocket detail around all historic window openings (to preserve original dimensions, enhance natural light/views, while concealing new ceiling cassettes within modern drop ceiling systems). Thoughtful sequencing and stocking of materials in the building was necessary to sustain progress despite having a single access lane for supplies and crane mobilization.
Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School
The Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School project involved renovating the existing 75,000 square foot historic school building and constructing a 45,000 square foot ground-up classroom addition, which effectively doubled the enrollment capacity of this site. The project also involved a variety of site improvements, namely a multi-purpose soccer field (satisfying a major community priority), new parking/loading areas, a playground within a newly created courtyard area, and various fencing, sidewalk, and other frontage improvements to enable students’ ability to take advantage of the shaded front yard space. JRS Architects took a clean modern approach to the design of the new middle-school wing with modern finishes and a sleek commercial glassline to seamlessly integrate with the existing masonry façade of Highlandtown Elementary School. Expansion of the PreK and Kindergarten programs was another key goal of this project, creating vibrant interactive learning environments with multiple flexible teacher’s stations and private kiddie restrooms in each home room.
Prominent new features of this “21st Century Schools” project included advanced lighting controls with occupied sensor modes, which adjust as outdoor lighting conditions change, “One Screen” smart boards with integrated pointers and teacher microphone system in every classroom, A/V boxes hidden above dummy ceiling tiles, and all new internet service tying into BCPS’s citywide emergency response network (with repeaters in each classroom). CAM also established dedicated vocational-tech (R&D) rooms with reeled power chords, eyewash stations, and an equipment storage room, allowing students to experiment with robotics and other power tools to gain exposure to engineering and related trades. Additionally, the job provided new art classrooms with extensive casework, drying racks, and kiln rooms, as well as a new music room with acoustical wall panels, deflectors, and an instrument storage area.
In order to satisfy the MSA’s Owner Controlled Insurance Program on this CMaR project, CAM deployed a cloud-based workforce visibility platform known as “Eyrus”. This software aided our team’s efforts in the field by monitoring all personnel that enters the site, while also serving as a manpower enforcement tool by tracking subcontractor attendance and labor hours on-site. This program enhanced the safety and security of this project by only allowing personnel to enter the LOD of the property if they had attended a safety orientation, passed a background check, and received a badge. CAM was able to accurately report on Local Resident and New Hire contributions to this project and efficiently manage the Certified Payroll Reporting process via GPS microchips placed in the hardhat of every employee. CAM, ownership, and all subs had access to a custom reporting dashboard on PC, mobile, or tablet, which allowed all parties to quickly retrieve project data and successfully meet these workforce development goals.
Notably, we launched within the peak of Covid, just a few months after the government shut down all non-essential businesses, and most other industries were fully working from home. CAM’s project management team had to get creative in order to keep the project within budget and maintain a tight schedule in the face of long material delays and the unavailability of a wide swath of common materials (metals, woods, plastics, resins, glues, chip-dependent products). This conversation began early during pre-construction, and we worked hard to pro-actively communicate with our architectural and engineering partners to convey the challenges we were seeing in real time. We worked diligently to identify alternative, substantially equivalent products, when possible, and served as a conduit between subcontractors’ suppliers and MSA/BCPS, as well as their design team. In some cases, adjustments were made to more readily-available materials and components. In instances where substitutions were not possible (ie: switchgear – with specialized breakers being imported from New Mexico), CAM had to exercise patience and find a way to work under suboptimal conditions (via temp services, generators, etc). Despite the building not having permanent power in place until 2 months prior to final delivery and occupancy, we were able to finish in time for the ribbon cutting and welcome the new student body population into the facility following the New Year’s holiday.
NDMU – University Academic Building – OT Labs
This project consisted of the conversion of approximately 5,000 square feet of unfinished storage space into Occupational Therapy Labs, within a partially-below grade level of NDMU’s University Academic Building. This suite will be utilized as hands-on learning environment for students aspiring to enter the Home Healthcare and Physical Therapy subsectors of nursing. The goal of this program is to train young professionals who will be assisting elderly/injured patients seeking to return home after stay in a hospital or outpatient rehab center. In addition to the collaborative teaching and admin areas, CAM’s fit-out included a new handicap-accessible restroom, laundry room, medical beds, and kitchen, to simulate the environment they would encounter in a typical assisted living facility or independent residence.
The existing gravel floor had to be leveled to create a suitable sub-base for a newly-poured concrete slab, and a new exterior entrance required tapering existing pavers to interface at the proper elevation to meet ADA. Significant MEP modifications were required, tapping into existing water and sanitary lines (below-grade), routing electrical back to panels in the adjacent mech. room, expanding existing IT/security systems, adding new VAV boxes and ductwork, and retrofitting the shell sprinkler system. Work had to be competed with time-of-day considerations, reserving certain activities for off-hours given the occupied nature of building and classrooms directly above.
The Lofts at Pontiac Mills
The Pontiac Mills Development is the adaptive reuse of more than 20 separate, historic, textile mill buildings into a mixed-use complex comprised of both office/retail and residential rental apartments. This historic textile mill complex was the original producer for Fruit of the Loom brand of cloth. Approximately 135 apartments and 50,000 SF of office/retail space will be developed within the existing mill complex, along the banks of the Pawtuxet River in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Work on the development began in 2016 and will encompass the renovation of approximately 200,000 SF, with first occupancy in 2018 and all phases completed by 2019/2020. The estimated cost for the entire project is $35,000,000.00. The project has been approved as an historic structure/complex from both the State of Rhode Island and the National Park Service. Pontiac Mills, originally built in 1863, has been declared a Nationally Registered Historic District, and it will utilize various state and federal tax credit programs.
Connection Center – NPBC
The Connection Center is a new 7,500 sf, multi-purpose center that will be primarily used for ministry and fellowship activities. This center will serve as the congregations hub for connection.
The project includes a large gathering and welcoming hall, administrative offices, and large banquet kitchen; it will provide the ability to do ministry in an even greater way.
Bay Brook Elementary/Middle School
This replacement school was constructed on an accelerated timeline so that Baltimore City Public Schools could occupy the building after the winter break. A combination of excellent plans, team experience and project-focused collaboration, generated nearly $1.3 million in savings to the owner.
The new 116,000 sf, 800 student facility is designed to promote flexible and interactive learning environments. All three classroom wings, P-K through 2nd grade, 3rd through 5th grade and 6th through 8th grade, contain dedicated Collaborative Learning Areas which are centralized to make the spaces open and easily accessible. Larger core-curriculum spaces consisting of the Cafeteria/Dining, Media Center, Administration, Gymnasium, and Community Space are located on the first floor.
CAM joined the project team during the Concept Design stage, while program standards and the replacement building’s orientation were being evaluated for this challenging site. During this time, we provided numerous cost estimates to the owner and assisted with key planning decisions.
In order to avoid unnecessary soil import/export costs, CAM studied and presented numerous building location scenarios with associated cost impacts. CAM and the design team had to balance various elements to meet LEED requirements, and achieve program goals. The desire to provide a welcoming addition to the neighborhood was accomplished while still meeting new parking requirements and providing walkable pathways easily accessed from the adjoining housing. Extensive sitework was performed in order to provide multiple playgrounds and a large athletic field, adjacent to the community space entrance.
Pontiac Mills Commercial Space
The Pontiac Mills Development is the adaptive reuse of more than 20 separate historic textile mill buildings into a mixed-use complex comprised of both office/retail and residential rental apartments. This historic textile mill complex was the original producer for Fruit of the Loom textile and garments.
Approximately 135 apartments and 50,000 SF of office/retail space will be developed within the existing mill complex along the banks of the Pawtuxet River in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Work on the development began in 2016 and will encompass the renovation of approximately 200,000 SF, with first occupancy in 2018 and all phases completed by 2019/2020. The estimated cost for the entire project is $35,000,000.00. The project has been approved as an historic structure/complex from both the State of Rhode Island and the National Park Service. Pontiac Mills, originally built in 1863, has been declared a Nationally Registered Historic District, and will utilize various state and federal tax credit programs.
Robert Poole Building
The Robert Poole Building is home to The Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE) and The Independence School, a project within the 21st Century School Buildings Plan. Our team partnered with the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore City Public Schools, & JRS Architects to provide pre-construction & construction services to this historic building.
This project renovates the original historic building and demolishes several later, outdated additions, replacing them with two new additions. Construction began in August 2016, and was completed for the start of school in August 2018. Key features include 72,044 sf of renovated space including the Media Center and CTE Labs, with another 63,852 sf of new construction. The new portion of the building contains a state-of-the-art Gymnasium, Art & Music Classrooms, and a Collaborative Learning Stair.
A dedicated entrance for community space leads to 1,980 sf featuring a large meeting room, career readiness room, food pantry, and a laundry center. In addition, there are two new greenhouses available for student use.
Thoughtful design allows for the building to maximize daylight in instructional areas, including the new collaborative learning areas, while there is a clear circulation path for wayfinding and security.
The renovated facility will gracefully transform an iconic building in the Hampden neighborhood into a true 21st century school.